New research led by Sandra Baker assesses welfare impacts in wildlife management

January 7, 2016

Human-wildlife conflict is a global issue and, where people try to manage this conflict, any impacts on animal welfare should be minimised where possible. However opinions on impacts vary widely so impacts need to be assessed objectively for decision-making purposes. We used a welfare assessment model, devised by Trudy Sharp and Glen Saunders, to differentiate and rank the impacts of different wildlife management interventions, using rabbit, mole and crow management methods as examples. Some rankings appeared counter-intuitive, highlighting the need for objective assessment. In the process of making welfare assessments, we evaluated additional benefits, such as identifying future research needs and how Standard Operating Procedures for wildlife management might be improved. We also illustrated some limitations of the model and discussed likely challenges in resolving these. The model is a milestone in assessing wildlife management welfare impacts; in future its utility might be improved, such as by refining the time-scales. The model might be used to reach consensus among stakeholders about relative welfare impacts or to identify ways of improving wildlife management practice in the field. Our paper was published in PLoS ONE on 4/12/16.

Baker SE, Sharp TM, Macdonald DW (2016) Assessing Animal Welfare Impacts in the Management of European Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), European Moles (Talpa europaea) and Carrion Crows (Corvus corone). PLoS ONE, 11(1): e0146298. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0146298.